“NoRILLA” is shaking things up at The Village

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The Village at Liberty Street

NORILLA learning platforms are live at The Village at Liberty Street and at the Rutledge Institute on the California University of Pennsylvania’s campus.  NoRILLA (Novel Research-based Intelligent Lifelong Learning Apparatus) is a mixed-reality system that combines the advantages of hands-on learning with artificial intelligence to provide personalized interactive feedback.
In lessons about stability and balance, NoRILLA stimulates scientific inquiry by asking children to predict which differently-shaped block tower will fall first when the Earthshake platform moves.  They activate the Earthshake and observe.  NoRILLA then provides feedback on whether the prediction was correct or incorrect and why one tower fell first.  Other lessons include volume, proportion, geometry, measurements, and symmetry, all simplified and packaged for young children.  Lesson plans that align with The Village’s STREAM-based curriculum, Pennsylvania state standards, and national standards for early learning encourage 21st century skills of collaboration, persistence, and resilience.

According to developer Dr. Nesra Yannier, “Research with hundreds of children has shown that this system improves children’s learning by 5 times compared to equivalent tablet or computer games while also increasing their enjoyment.”  Ethan, a pre-k student at the Rutledge Institute, seconded that by sharing that his favorite thing to do at school is NoRILLA.

A grant from WOMEN of Southwestern PA supplemented funding from The Village to make this creative learning opportunity available for local children.  “According to Village President Cherie Sears, “The Village is one of first two preschools to invest in NoRILLA, because we’re committed to leadership in early childhood education.  We hope to collaborate with CMU and Cal U to get the most from this investment and advance the science behind NoRILLA.”

The non-profit Village was founded in 2008 and provides no-cost care for the children of single-parent, full-time students who meet some additional criteria.  The Village also accepts subsidized care and full tuition paying families.  The Rutledge Institute opened in 2018 and is funded by a generous gift to California University of Pennsylvania from Tom and Karen Rutledge.  Mr. Rutledge graduated from Cal U and is now President and CEO of Charter Communications.  Families of children attending the institute pay no tuition.  Both The Village at Liberty Street and the Rutledge Institute have earned National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation and hold the highest Keystone STARS 4 rating.

For more information on either program, call 724-938-5455 or visit www.thevillagecares.org.